INTERVIEW: Trans Am’s Phil Manley

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, interviews, listen On: Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

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Trans Am have been around since the 90s, and in that time they’ve explored everything from post-rock to electronica and Krautrock. They’ve always had hard rock influences, but never more obviously than on their latest release, Volume X. As soon as we heard the stoner rock and thrash vibes of a few of the songs, we knew we had to find out what was up with that. Guitarist Phil Manley was kind enough to answer our stupid questions.

Even though the bulk of the album focuses on your usual Krautrock/electronic sound, there seem to be some harder elements this time around. Is there a reason for that?

From the beginning Trans Am has also oscillated between genres pretty recklessly.  Every album includes some tracks that are hard rock and others that are more experimental electronic music.  Sometimes the peanut butter gets mixed in with the chocolate, but other times they stay separate.  ‘The Surveillance’ is the most acutely obvious example of this.  The rock songs are really hard rockin’ and the electronic songs are purely electronic.  I think we like to keep the rock element going because we are a very physical band.  The electronic stuff is a bit headier.  The rock stuff is more cathartic.  It’s more fun to play.  I’m a guitar player and I want to get my rocks off.  It’s harder to do that with the electronic stuff, personally speaking.

“Anthropocene” has a stoner rock vibe. What inspired that?

Drugs?  That riff was a total throwaway.  When we were planning our recording session, we each had to show up with a certain number of “ideas” to present to the band for consideration.  This was a riff that I threw together in maybe 5 minutes.  I actually didn’t really like it to begin with.  It was too stupid, in my mind.  But Nate and Seb liked it and it developed from there.  I’m a fan of the stoner rock genre, generally speaking.  I work as a recording engineer and I record a lot of bands that would fall into that very broad genre.  I’ve been a Melvins fan since I heard their ‘Egg Nog’ EP when I was in college.  I bought Earth ’2′ when it came out.  Those records were very formative for me.  They seemed to stretch the boundaries of time and space and of my young, impressionable mind.  It kind of blows my mind to think about how bands like Sunn O))) and Boris and so many others have had so much success playing a style that is so old now.  I guess it all goes back to Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer anyway.

Why did you decide to go for the thrash riff in “Backlash?” Are you a fan of thrash metal? Did you look at any one specific song or band when coming up with that tune?

We are all fans of thrash.  I grew up on Metallica and Slayer.  I live in San Francisco and people are very serious about that shit here.  Metallica and Exodus are woven into the local fabric as much as the Grateful Dead or Santana.  It’s pretty great.

Trans Am actually had an amazing experience going to see Slayer play ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ in Cleveland a few years back.  This was before Jeff Hanneman passed away.  Dave Lombardo is even better now than he was on those records.  Totally mind blowing.

‘Backlash’ is actually a nod to the Manowar track ‘Wheels of Fire’, to be honest.  I wrote that song for a soundtrack.  It was scrapped, but wound up making it on ‘Volume X’ in the end.  The director wanted me to compose a song that referenced Metallica ‘Kill ‘Em All’.  He wanted something that sounded like ‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)’.  This is a stretch, I realize.  I did play some heavily fuzzed wah-wah bass in there if you listen closely.  Cliff Burton has always been a hero of mine.

Our magazine covers more extreme music; what do you think our readers might get out of this album?

Maybe they’ll like some of it and not other bits?  I’m pretty sure fans of heavy music can appreciate all types of music.  I know a lot of metal heads who are really into classical music.  Music is music after all.  If you feel it, then it’s real.  We are not interested in making fake music.  The world is flooded with fake music – music with all the trappings of what music should sound like, but without any of the substance.  It’s a facade.  Trans Am has been doing this for too long.  We are not interested in clogging peoples ear holes with fake music.  Hopefully, your readers will have a visceral connection with our music.

***Volume X is out today on Thrill Jockey. You can learn more about the band and order the record here. See them on tour at the locations below:

Thu May 22 – Washington, DC – The Black Cat w/ Heavy Breathing
Fri May 23 – Brooklyn, NY – The Knitting Factory w/ Dan Friel
Sat May 24 – Pittsburgh, PA – Smiling Moose w/ Microwaves
Sun May 25 – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle w/ Cave
Tue May 27 – St. Louis, MO – The Firebird w/ Ring Cicada, The Gorge
Wed May 28 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar
Thu May 29 – Dallas, TX – Three Links w/ New Fumes
Fri May 30 – Houston, TX – Rudyard’s Pub w/ Vacation Eyes, Wicked Poseur
Sat May 31 – Austin, TX – Red 7 w/ Survive, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth
Mon Jun 2 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom w/ Larkspurs
Tue Jun 3 – Los Angeles, CA – The Satellite
Wed Jun 4 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent w/ Dirty Ghosts, Death Cheetah

Sandrider: Preview of “Dogwater,” Non-T-Shirt Version.

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: exclusive, featured, gnarly one-offs, listen On: Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

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We used to love Akimbo around these parts. I say used to, not because they suddenly betrayed their clangy, mathy roots for a combination of slick radio rock and Drake covers, but because they up and broke up. So, I guess in a roundabout way, we still love Akimbo even though the band doesn’t really exist anymore. A few years ago, former Akimbo members Nat Damm (drums) and Jon Weisnewski (guitar/vocals) teamed up with Ruby Doe bassist/vocalist Jesse Roberts to form the more penetrable and accessible Sandrider. They’ve been liked to classic grunge, which we do hear strains of, but there’s also a definite punk and 70s rock feel – the major ingredients of grunge, ironically enough – and a metallic stomp to their raucous brand of rock. They have thus far released two albums, their self-titled debut and Godhead which came out late last year. Both are available here. Since then, the band has recently participated in a compilation entitled Seattle Noise Vol. 1 as released by Good to Die Records and featuring a bunch of bands who took enough time away from drinking under the Space Needle to offer up examples of their rocking goodness and one of the more unique packaging ideas I’ve ever stumbled across. Here’s the word directly from the top:

“Seattle’s Cha Cha Lounge in collaboration with AVR Music and Good to Die Records is proud to present SEATTLE NOISE VOL. 1 (5/20), a compilation with 14 slabs of sonic goodness from the cream of the crop of the Emerald City’s underground rock scene featuring the likes of Sandrider, Monogamy Party, Dust Moth, Deadkill, Constant Lovers, Crypts and more. The compilation was curated by Kerry Zettel of the Cha Cha Lounge and engineered, mixed & produced by Ian Lesage this past February over the course of ten days at the Vault Studios in Seattle.

In keeping with the thinking-outside-the-box tradition of these bands, labels, and community, Seattle Noise Vol. 1 will be physically released as a T-shirt with front & back cover art printed on the shirt and liner-notes printed in the shirt. Purchase of the T-shirt includes a high quality digital download of the compilation. The shirts will initially be available May 20th at a listening and release party being held at the Cha Cha Lounge in Seattle. The event is FREE, everyone is invited and party starts around 9pm. Following the initial release the T-shirts will be available at both the Cha Cha Lounge and in the Good to Die Records webstore as well as digitally on Bandcamp. More info soon…”

Here’s Sandrider’s track and the liner notes below. Check out Good to Die for more info and if you’re in Seattle, why not check out their shindig?

Taken from Seattle Noise Vol. 1 Presented by Cha Cha Lounge
Release date: 05/20/2014
Format: Digital Download / T-Shirt
AVR Music – Good to Die Records

Track Listing:
01. Sandrider – Dogwater
02. Crypts – Carnivore
03. Tacos! – Choke
04. Glose – Thirsty Nurse
05. Deadkill – Grave Matters
06. Trash Fire – Poorest Choices
07. Murmurs – Woof
08. Dust Moth – Handles
09. Constant Lovers – A Lullaby
10. Blood Drugs – Lowest
11. Monogamy Party – I Don’t Like You
12. Childbirth – Sweet Pea
13. The Great Goddamn – The Weight
14. Theories – Petrifaction

All songs are original recordings and previously unreleased.

Recorded over 10 days at Vault Studios (02/17/2014 through 02/27/2014) on a shared back-line with some band-to-band modifications.

Physically released on a T-shirt including Front & Back cover art printed on the shirt and Liner Notes printed in the shirt. T-shirt includes digital download.

Engineered, Mixed & Produced by Ian Lesage
Co-Produced by Luke Matkins and Kerry Zettel
Mastered by Levi Seitz Black Belt Mastering 03/18/2014
Album artwork by Shannon Perry
Layout & Curated by Kerry Zettel
Studio Hospitality provided by Cha Cha Lounge Seattle

Special mention to “drunkest band in the studio” Blood Drugs

Vincibility is for Suckers: Exclusive Fucking Invincible Premiere!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

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Providence, Rhode Island-based FUCKING INVINCIBLE — featuring faces that will be familiar to fans of Daughters, Dropdead, Soul Control, Sweet Jesus, etcetera — gave themselves a lot to live up to with their chosen moniker, but, as the exclusive stream of “Ape As Man/Man As Ape” below ably demonstrates, these dudes have good reason to have confidence in that powerviolence swagger.

The band’s Atomic Action! debut album It’ll Get Worse Before It Gets Better drops in July. Another track is available here. In the meantime, check the full YouTube’d EP and tour dates after the jump.

Metal Yoga With André Foisy #2

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured On: Monday, May 19th, 2014

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André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at Turbodog Yoga in Chicago, IL. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his blog.


You’re on the road and you’re late for your next show because you woke up late after partying too hard. You’ve been on the road for days and you’ve been eating nothing but potato chips, ranch flavored sunflower seeds, gas station coffee and Taco Bell. You’re feeling crappy and everyone in the van is cranky.

André has been there.

Here’s one tool that I utilize to feel my best on tour: ujjayi breath. It’s the foundation of many yoga poses. So it’s important that we discuss this breathing technique before moving on to any other poses.

Many people find this type of breathing to be calming as well as energizing. I find that it’s good for quieting your brain, relieving anxiety, and helping create a hospitable environment in your brain when you tour.

Here’s how this breathing technique works:

–When you inhale/exhale, you gently constrict the opening of your throat so that you’re slightly resisting the passage of air. Your breath sounds like Darth Vader.

–The resistance means that you’re gently pulling the breath in on inhale and gently pushing the breath out on your exhale. The resistance helps you naturally lengthen and slow down your breath.

–When you breathe really slowly and deeply, the body’s other systems respond because their function is related to your breath.

The more that you practice breathing like this, the better you’ll feel. If you constantly breathe shallow the muscles associated with breathing get weak. So, the more you practice this type of breathing, the easier it will be for you to breathe deeper regularly because you’ll strengthen muscles associated with breathing.

Benefits:

-Makes you feel like you’re getting some ‘me time’ when you can’t get away from your bandmates
-Focuses the mind and improves concentration
-Strengthens the breathing muscles
-Calms the body
-Regulates the heating of the body
-Releases tension
-Helps you get over that feeling you get when you party too hard

How to work in the pose:

You can do this pose while you’re standing or sitting. I suggest trying this with your eyes closed at first.

Ujjayi breath should be audible so turn the music off when you figure this out.

Beginning Ujjayi breathing:

1.) Inhale through your nose slowly and as deeply as possible without straining. Slightly constrict the back of your throat while you inhale.

2.) Slowly exhale with your mouth wide open. Keep constricting the back of your throat. Make an “aaahhhhhhh” sound in the back of your throat.

3.) Repeat several times, until you get the hang of making that sound in the back of your throat.

Full-on Ujjayi breathing:

4.) Repeat step 1

5.) Slowly exhale with your mouth closed. Keep making that “aaaahhhh” sound as you drag your breath across the back of your throat.

6.) Repeat these last two steps.

7.) Start by practicing ujjayi breathing for about five minutes while you are standing/sitting in one place.

Notice how your lungs and the rest of you feel when you take in fresh air rather than weed clouds.

STREAMING: God Macabre “Lost”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, May 19th, 2014

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Back in 2002, Relapse had the hairy balls to reissue a relatively unknown yet cult favorite in God Macabre’s The Winterlong. This was well before labels X, Y, and Z got on the reissue bandwagon of unfurling low visibility releases like they were unmined gold. Anyway, organized with full consent of the band by ex-Relapse death metal curator Tom H., the 2002 reissue featured updated artwork (uncredited by Paul Romano), the Consumed by Darkness EP (by predaters Macabre End), and an eBay-friendly price point.

Twelve long years later, both The Winterlong (the original on M.B.R. and the reissue on Relapse) are sought after collectibles in aftermarkets everywhere. Relapse could’ve re-re-released The Winterlong at the height of the New Wave of Old-School Death Metal in 2008, but they didn’t, opting to follow the re-release of Death’s storied catalog like true warriors instead. At least, that’s the story we’re telling.

So, what does re-re-released The Winterlong feature? For one, Relapse and God Macabre unearthed a previously unreleased track called, “Life’s Verge”. It rules! Sort of the Autopsy-Carnage-Paradise Lost mix that made the debut so riveting. For two, they’ve put this bastard on vinyl. Trust us, it’s massive sounding. For three, they made t-shirts. Fucking finally!

Check out what founding member Ola Sjoberg had to say about the original re-issue: “I don’t know how many times during the years since the original release that people have been asking about the CD, what happened to it and where to get it. To be honest, with the Relapse release I feel the CD got the kind of release it deserved.” (credit: DigitalMetal) We’re pretty sure he’s equally chuffed about the re-re-release as well.

OK, Monday is murder day at the hands of Swedish legends God Macabre!

** God Macabre’s The Winterlong is available from Relapse Records as a pre-order (HERE) in a few awesomely awesome formats, including a gold/black vinyl merge that’ll set your nerd radar on high alert. If you don’t do the buy thing, LIKE God Macabre on Facebook

** Look for God Macabre on their North American debut at Maryland Deathfest on Saturday May 24, 2014 at the Edison Lot! Yes, we’ll be up front!

Instruments of Lord Shiva: Dying Out Flame

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, May 16th, 2014

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Kathmandu, Nepal’s Dying Out Flame play Vedic death metal — that is, in the words of the band’s charismatic and eloquent frontman Aabeg Gautam, “Hindu themes derived from ancient Vedic philosophy/mythology and literature, incorporating ancient sanskrit shlokas, and fusing traditional Hindu classical music to brutal death metal.”

Sounds pretty esoteric and spacey, right? Well, get ready, ’cause the fiery, epic track off the band’s sure-to-be insane upcoming full-length debut below is about to turn a no small number of skeptics into true believers.

Gautam was gracious enough to give Decibel a little insight into the origins of Dying Out Flame and the intention behind the band’s unorthodox approach to extreme music…

So how, exactly, did you come to pioneer/champion Vedic Death Metal?

I am a child from very religious Hindu family — celebrating festivals makes me happy. On occasion I wear traditional clothes, visit temple, perform worship. The Upanishads and Gita did a lot to help bring me on track. So this Hindu lifestyle is in my blood and inspired me from very early on. I am a huge fan of extreme metal, but also eastern classical Carnatic music as well as the vibes of Hindu sanskrit chants, and I felt the urge to combine these influences in the music I create. When we first started experimenting with bringing ethnic fusion and Hinduism into death metal we had no idea that something called Vedic metal existed. Only after composing a few songs did we learn there were already great bands like Rudra and Kartikeya writing music [with similar influences and themes].

Vedic death metal is not ordinary death metal music latched onto something else. It is a means for uplifting the spirit of the listener — basically, arrangements of words and music as seen from the eyes of transcendental wisdom revealed by the light of Vedas. So the songs are really meaningful and informative and, at the same time, people can enjoy death metal brutality, too. In the end the result is always unique and positive — but we won’t judge bands for whatever their personal beliefs are…Each artist has every right to follow their own path.

It’s interesting for someone like me on the outside looking in, death metal and traditional Hinduism definitely seem like a strange fit, but Dying Out Flame somehow is able to bring these disparate parts together in such a way that it makes sense…

Sucker For Punishment: Snakes ‘N’ Balls

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Friday, May 16th, 2014

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Few bands, metal or otherwise, have built a reputation over the last 15 years as sterling as Agalloch has. Ever since the 2002 landmark The Mantle the Portland band has put a very unique spin on extreme metal, its blend of folk/pagan influences and atmospheric black metal yielding startlingly beautiful music that many didn’t dream possible in such a harsh genre. And just like the pace of the band’s full-length album output, Agalloch’s musical evolution has been slow and steady, each record indebted to the same formula – introspection and staggering beauty juxtaposed with speed and darkness – but 2010’s Marrow of the Spirit was particularly revelatory. An easy choice as the best metal album of that year, topping Decibel’s list of course, it felt climactic, especially compared to 2002’s The Mantle and 2006’s Ashes Against the Grain, like it was a summit the foursome had been striving to reach for the past decade.

Trouble is, what do you do after that? Agalloch has never been complacent, but in the wake of releasing an album that’s universally regarded as career-defining, that question must linger, even just a little. But like Gary Snyder told Jack Kerouac, “When you get to the top of the mountain, keep climbing.” Or better yet, like in The Dharma Bums, just run down the damn thing, which is exactly what The Serpent & the Sphere (Profound Lore) feels like. The songs are shorter, crisper, more streamlined and direct, the momentum of that apex reached on Marrow propelling the music down that hillside with grace and breathless energy.

What fans will notice first, and what will undoubtedly rankle some, is that the full-on, blastbeat-driven speed is downplayed considerably. While that played a major factor on Marrow – Aesop Dekker’s loose-yet-controlled blasting is phenomenal – there’s more focus on simpler dynamics, with enough room made for the odd post-punk influence to creep in, most notably on “Dark Matter Gods” and “Celestial Effigy”, both of which owe a lot to The Cure’s Disintegration. It’s the sound of a band discovering that it can shift gears without compromising the music’s metal integrity. Metal still roots the music, of that there’s no doubt, only the pace is measured, and in turn that draws the listener in more. You’re able to take in the melodies by John Haughm and Don Anderson, to absorb the poetic lyrics more easily, as the songs ebb and flow elegantly, interspersed by tender classical guitar intrludes by Canadian musician Nathanaël Larochette. Songs like “Birth and Death of the Pillars of Creation” and the gorgeous “Plateau of the Ages” only feel comfortable because of the sheer mastery of the form the band displays. Comfortable and familiar, but never for a second complacent. You just go along for the ride, careening, leaping down that hillside until you dig your sneakered heels into the mud and fall there, glad.

Purchase Agalloch’s The Serpent & the Sphere via Profound Lore.

Also out this week:

Down, Down IV: Part II (ADA): Those who didn’t know what to make of Phil Anselmo’s relentlessly atonal debut solo album last year will be very, very happy to hear he’s back to the Southern sludge grind on this very good second installment of Down’s EP series. It’s more of the same from the guys, which is all their fans ever want, and to the band’s credit songs like “We Knew Him Well”, “Hogshead/Dogshead”, and the wonderfully Sabbathian “Conjure” more than hold up their end of the bargain.

High Spirits, You Are Here (Hells Headbangers): A peer of mine wrote the other day, “Let’s just let Chris Black run heavy metal.” I’d be perfectly fine with that. Whether making music with Pharaoh, Dawnbringer, or Superchrist, Black understands the aesthetic of classic heavy metal so deeply that he rarely if ever puts a wrong foot forward. High Spirits ventures into the more melodic side of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, that late chapter in the era that yielded such bands as Tokyo Blade and Grim Reaper. Simple, streamlined, with strong emphasis on hard rock harmonies and melodies derived from Blue Öyster Cult, this album is not only more upbeat than anything Black has written to date, but it’s also some of his strongest, most dynamic material, his singing feeling more confident than ever. Like Dawnbringer’s last two albums, the simplicity You Are Here somehow cuts right to what makes heavy metal so appealing. It’s intangible; you hear this album, and something clicks. Few contemporary metal musicians get it like Black does, and he gets it totally, life-affirmingly right on this magnificent little album. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Hour Of Penance, Regicide (Prosthetic): The Italian band is back with another helping of well-crafted death metal, striking a good balance between physicality and melody. The guitar work by Giulio Moschini and Paolo Pieri is especially noteworthy, tossing in nimble melodies amidst robust – and often very catchy – rhythm riffs. Dan Lake premiered this album last week, and it’s well worth checking out.

Killer Be Killed, Killer Be Killed (Nuclear Blast): I know what you’ve been thinking, “Why can’t we ever hear Greg Puciato and Troy Sanders sing boring ‘90s groove metal with an underachieving Max Cavalera instead of what they do with Dillinger and Mastodon?” Well, your prayers have been answered. Enjoy.

Lantlos, Melting Sun (Prophecy): I was looking forward to this album, I enjoy Lantlos a great deal. But unlike Alcest, which has always been better when avoiding black metal trappings, the black metal side is sorely, sorely missed on this hazy, dreamy, and unbelievably boring effort. Sure, there’s more of a heavy aspect to counter the melodies, but the heaviness plods away lugubriously, while the hookless melodies just float along without engaging the listener in the least. I did not see this coming at all. What a disappointment.

Nightsatan, Nightsatan And The Loops Of Doom (Svart): Well, this is weird, a soundtrack album that’s twice as long as the movie it’s for. And what a strange, strange movie Nightsatan and the Loops of Doom is, too, an homage to 1980s post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy flicks laced with music that draws equally from Goblin and Giorgio Moroder. This one for the VHS revivalist crowd.

Of Spire & Throne, Toll of the Wound (Broken Limb): It’s easy to compare the Edinburgh band to Conan, as its breand of doom metal is similarly blunt and pulverizing, but what makes this new EP so interesting is how it slowly sets itself apart, from the minimalist brilliance of “Tower of Glass” to the surprisingly stately “Cascading Shard”. This is a band to keep an eye on. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Owl, Into the Absolute (Zeitgeist): My immediate reaction to this EP by the German band was, okay, Conan doom with Meshuggah’s guitar tone. But then the blastbeats kicked in, the atmospheric keyboards started, progressive rock texture is displayed, the guy started singing, and I was completely thrown for a loop. It’s a very, very interesting thing these three guys are doing on this record, and I’d like to hear where they take this music next. There’s huge potential here. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Teitanbood, Death (The Ajna Offensive): You sometimes get the sense that there’s competence in Teitanblood. They know dynamics, and the material is performed with a level of intensity that can best be described as striking. However, the faster passages – which dominate the album – are so relentlessly buzzing in tone that any musicality this stuff might have had is stripped away completely. You can sound as dense as you want and still retain a sense of musicality. Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Grave Miasma, and Bölzer all prove that. But when your overwhelming desire to sound comically evil and lo-fi renders the recording unintelligible, it ceases being music and is nothing more than racket, to the point where merely looking and sounding scary can’t save your sorry, cartoonish selves.

Vallenfyre, Splinters (Century Media): The Paradise Lost/My Dying Bride/At the Gates side project made no apologies for its Swedish death metal fandom on its debut album back in 2011, and although that hasn’t changed at all on the follow-up, there’s one big difference. It hits you as soon as those guitars kick in: this is a Kurt Ballou recording. Granted, the man’s guitar tone has become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to get excited when band after band put out records that sound the same, but the way Ballou brings the crust influence out of Vallenfyre on this very loud record will please many. It sounds fantastic. The only thing is, this album is so dominated by Ballou’s presence, it sacrifices any identity this band might have had before.

And back by surprisingly popular demand (thanks to everyone for asking it be resurrected) here’s this week’s must-hear album from outside the metal scene:

Swans, To Be Kind (Mute/Young God): A huge influence on a wide array of artists to the point where you could use that old Velvet Underground line (“not many bought their albums, but those who did formed a band”) Swans suddenly became the most name-dropped band in metal and indie rock in the wake of the release of 2012’s colossal triple album The Seer, regardless of whether anyone knew the band’s history or not. Looking back on it, though, it worked more as a spectacle, a wild, multifaceted look back at Michael Gira’s vast body of work work not only with Swans but Angels of Light as well, rather than something one would revisit time and again. To Be Kind, though, feels like an album that you would want to revisit over and over. The idea is the same as The Seer – again, it’s a whopping two hours long – but it’s so much more cohesive as it twists and turns deeper and deeper into bizarre and often harrowing territory, completely distinct from anything the band has ever done before yet undeniably Swans. Noise, blues, folk, and rock collide as Gira sings, croons, shouts, and yelps like a madman, the entire mad package tied together by producer John Congleton. It swings with demented glee, it seduces, and it punishes, best exemplified by the astonishing 54-minute cycle of “Just a Little Boy”, “A Little God in My Hands”, and “Bring the Sun/Toussaint l’Ouverture”. Primal, orchestral, cathartic, and soulful, this is a far more intense a listening experience than any metal album you’ll hear this week. Hell, perhaps all year.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy 

“We Like to Write No-Brainers from the Heart,” and Other Quotable Gems: Anti Ritual Interviewed

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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With 17 billion bands, labels and PR people all clamouring for a piece of the attention pie, it sometimes gets to the point where you want to grab a small stack of classics and go stick your head in the proverbial sand of that deserted desert island people claim to be listening to their favourite albums while stranded on. But there’s always good and great out there, you just have to take the time to find it, even if it involves utilising an oddball method or really dumb reason. Like how I came to discover, and subsequently become a fan of, Denmark’s Anti Ritual. Jacob at Indisciplinarian Records sent me a heads-up on the band, I took one look at their logo and thought, “This is either going to be awesomely terrible or terribly awesome!” Turns out the band’s brand of blackened crusty sludge (the description of which sounds like something you would otherwise be on the horn to Roto-Rooter about) of their self-titled, debut EP is pretty top notch, so I tracked down vocalist Marco Malcorps and broke bread and conversation with him over email.

Ok, tell us about the history of Anti Ritual. Your bio says the band’s members all have roots and experience in the Copenhagen hardcore scene: how so and with whom? Shed some light on the situation for those of us who’ve never been anywhere near Copenhagen, ever.
The other three guys have known each other for some years now playing in different bands together. Recent projects for the band members are Rising, The Kandidate, Saturnus and Parasight and I played crust and powerviolence in bands such as Shitcomet and Ukrudt. We’ve all been around in the Copenhagen scene for a good while. The punk/hardcore scene has been good for years and the metal scene is getting quite on its way too. I guess we’re a good mixture of both.

You guys mix a good number of extreme sub-genres in the creation of your own sound. When Anti Ritual formed, was there a specific direction in sound you wanted to head in? How did Anti Ritual end up as Anti Ritual?
A common denominator for the four of us is passion. We’re playing this music because not playing it doesn’t seem like an option. This project has elements of genres that we’ve all touched upon before, but to my knowledge, it’s the first time we’re involved in something that mixes all these things together. That, however, is not the point. We’re not trying to cram every style we haven’t gone all the way into into one band. If that was the case, you could expect our next record to be a calypso/neo-folk/Motown/goregrind pile of absolute ass. Our sound is more the result of what happens when our collective creative input is pooled. It fits our various tempers and ambitions to play this blistering bastard of hardcore, black metal and sludge. There is simply no other way our music could sound.

Has exploring and incorporating other sub-genres of music thrown up any stumbling blocks while writing songs, especially when experimenting with styles you may be fans of, but have less experience actually playing?
No, not at all. The songs just came out of a need to do something like this, the basic structures and the overall feel and style of the songs poured out very quickly. We like to write no-brainers from the heart without having to construct things too much. If it works, we keep on pounding it – if not, on we go.

Your lyrics have been described as “harsh critiques of the structures of modern society.” What are you critiquing and what moves you the most to the point you’d write a song about it?
What moves me the most to write a song is my heartfelt anger. I know it sounds like a cliché, but what drives me to pen our lyrics is the feeling of wanting to lay waste to my surroundings. An example: Last week a cop here attacked a man in a wheelchair because he was yelling at him. The cop took a man who is paralyzed from the waist down and threw him onto the ground and proceeded to leave him there, full well knowing that the man was unable to get up by himself. Stuff like that makes me burn with rage, and so, instead of wandering into the street and savagely stabbing the first cop I come across, I can let out some of that rage by channeling it into lyrics (hint: an Anti Ritual song about police brutality and the privilege of power is in the works). On the other hand, I think some of my teenage heroes, Satanic Surfers, said it really good: “I could write a thousand songs about my anger but it wouldn’t change a thing in this world. I know that for a fact but it makes me feel a whole lot better, that’s why I do this in the first place”. I’m not trying to start a revolution here. I’m just trying not to lose my shit and go on a murderous rampage.

What can you tell us about the recording of the EP? How long did it take? Where did you do it? Did anyone spill coffee on the recording console?
We recorded most of the record over the course of a few days in our rehearsal space with ourselves producing. KB, our bass player, has it set up as a studio and he’s real good with this kind of stuff. He records for shitloads of bands out there. We didn’t spill any coffee. We did however consume vast amounts of it (we’re not in our 20’ies anymore so we’re running on caffeine, sugar and pure unfiltered hatred).

(the infamous logo in question)
deciblog - ANTI-RITUAL_cover

When you decided to create the band’s logo, what happened: did someone go on a Etch-a-Sketch bender?
We went over a couple of different options, but in the end our drummer Niko, who works as a graphic designer when not pounding drums, had an idea that he wanted to try out. So he did and voila. As for whether or not the process involved an Etch-a-Sketch, I don’t know. I do know however that it involved the sacrifice of a horde of well-fed venture capitalists to our lord who slumbers in his house in R’lyeh. And coffee. Always the coffee.

There doesn’t seem to be much of an Anti Ritual presence online. I thought I was the last remaining Facebook hold-out in the western world; so I can respect that, but I’m not trying to promote a band (or stalk ex-girlfriends or track down all the losers I went to high school with). Is your lack of web presence a deliberate thing?
Yes, it’s deliberate. Though social media has made a lot of things much easier for bands on the rise, it can also sometime become just another menial task to be dealt with. “Sooner or later, the things you own end up owning you” as Palahniuk puts it. Having to constantly maintain a profile on, say, Facebook is simply a task that we didn’t think was worth our time. This is, as I said, at project born of passion (as a band should be) and as such we felt it was a good idea to focus simply on that.

Once the EP is out, what’s the plan? Is there a plan? Is there a full-length in the works?
Well, when we formed the band the only plan was to write some songs, record a record and see what would happen. Through the process though, the whole project kind of grew on us. As such, when the recording process was finished, we kind of agreed that this was not to be the last the world would hear of us. However, most of us have other musical projects to attend to as well so as for when/what and all that, nothing is sure right now. Personally, I can name a few bands that I’d like to do a split 7″ with in the near future, but whether or not that happens, remains to be seen.

Interested? Check ‘em out and/or buy Anti Ritual here.

Soul Survivors: Saint Vitus play Born Too Late in its entirety

By: j.bennett Posted in: featured, live reviews On: Thursday, May 15th, 2014

vitus

Saint Vitus @ The Echoplex, Los Angeles, May 13, 2014

“This is a lot different for us than it was in L.A. 35 years ago.” So says Saint Vitus guitarist and mastermind Dave Chandler from the stage at the Echoplex, where several hundred headbangers, burnouts and biker types have gathered to suck on Bud tallboys and bask in the stoned glory of Vitus’ 35th anniversary and full performance of their stone-cold 1986 doom classic, Born Too Late.

Presumably, Chandler is referring to the fact that hardly anyone here in the band’s hometown gave a flying fuck about Saint Vitus back in the ’80s, when they were the misfit metal band on SST and dismissed as retrograde dinosaurs by pretty much everyone except certain members of Black Flag and the Mentors. But for all the alleged musical crimes Saint Vitus have been accused of since forming three and a half decades ago—being too slow (then), too old (now) or too wasted (then and now)—few seemed to grasp the band’s essence. Much more than mere Sabbath worshippers or even rightful heirs to the Sabbathian throne, Vitus are the thing they never get credit for being: the heaviest soul band alive. Their not-so-secret weapon, then as now, is Scott “Wino” Weinrich, the D.C.-bred crank enthusiast, guitar slayer (though he only briefly put this talent to use in Vitus) and seething tattooed soul singer who replaced original Vitus vocalist Scott Reagers in 1985.

That soul is both inherent and enhanced through years of struggle. And that’s because Vitus never left the street. Sabbath became full-blown rock stars within three years of forming, maybe less. By the time Paranoid was out, they were already bigger than Vitus ever got.  And money-wise? Forget it: The Drab Four recorded their fourth album in a Bel Air mansion surrounded by Scarface-sized piles of cocaine. Vitus recorded their fourth, Mournful Cries, in three days at some dump in Hollywood called, appropriately, the Music Grinder. The chances are excellent that they were wide awake on speed the entire time.

 vitus2

Speaking of speed: The nice thing about watching bands that play slow is that you can stand right up front without having to worry about getting spin-kicked in the shoulder blades by some over-enthusiastic waterhead. So we roll straight up to the barrier as Chandler, Wino, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Henry Vasquez kick off with back-to-back face-rulers “Living Backwards” and “I Bleed Black” from 1990’s V before easing into the Reagers-era anthem “War Is Our Destiny” and “Blessed Night” from 2012’s Lillie: F-65.  At the end of “The Troll,” Chandler leans forward to give the audience ye olde invisible orange. And the bug eyes. And the wah-wah on full fucking blast. But no chords or notes or anything like that. Who needs that shit when you’ve got feedback and bug eyes and invisible fruit?  Not us.

The Born Too Late segment of the show begins with the droning death chant of “The War Starter” and proceeds in no particular order.  After wailing through the bass-driven slow=burner “The Lost Feeling,” Chandler advises the crowd:  “Don’t dial 976-WINO. It’s not a good time.”

Wino replies with zero beats missed: “News to me.”

It sounds almost scripted, like an old Honeymooners routine, except that Wino seems genuinely surprised when Chandler says it. But there’s little time to reflect: It’s officially time to saw off the monstrous acid paean “Clear Windowpane” and easily a third of the crowd starts singing along. Which, in Los Angeles, is about as common as stumbling across two unicorns fucking in an alley.

Toward the end of the set, Wino asks the audience what we want to hear. Someone yells for “Thirsty and Miserable,” the Flag song Vitus covered back in ’87. “Cool,” Wino says, flashing a wry smile. “We’re definitely not gonna play that one.”

They close with “Born Too Late,” obviously. It’s got more soul than just about anything you’d care to mention.

Stream New Nader Sadek Video!

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, listen, videos On: Thursday, May 15th, 2014

NSadek VidPic

It’s been three years, almost to the day, since Nader Sadek and an all-star cast of death metal notables released In the Flesh, a just-about-out-of-nowhere titan of an album that exorcised its creator’s disgust with the Western petrol-centric economy and culture and the way it abuses life on Earth, both past and present.

Last year, Sadek released both a DVD and CD recording of the album played in its entirety in New York, called Living Flesh.  The songs sounded reinvigorated, electrified by a new setting and added musicians.

In yet another incarnation, Sadek’s metal manifestation has re-recorded “Mechanic Idolatry”, now billed as “Re:Mechanic” in the style introduced on Living Flesh.  This time, the project includes Travis Ryan (Cattle Decapitation), Mike Hrubovcak (Monstrosity), Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy), Rune Eriksen (Mayhem, Aura Noir), Orestis Nalmpantis (underground Greek band Genna Apo Kolo) and Kelly Conlon (Death, Monstrosity).

Today, the Deciblog brings you the video for “Re:Mechanic” with all the brutal faux-drumming, jittery jump cuts and goopy-gloppy closeups you could possibly hope for.  The official statement to accompany the video goes like this:

In the final video of “In The Flesh,” the curse of petroleum traps faceless protagonists in a vicious cycle of dismemberment and rebirth. Breaking down body parts and reappropriating them into engine parts, the infernal Machine accumulates those parts in order to extend and intensify this process. Caught in this loop, the song functions as a ritual that links the divine skies with the underground, an ancient past with the cradle of damnation.

Sadek states: “For the final video, it was important for me to shoot at the ancient Crystal Altar in Egypt, cutting it with footage from the New York City underground. Conceptually, I wanted to broaden the scope and scale of the project, and to reaffirm the global afflictions caused by our petro worship. In a sense, the underground has risen and the surface has sunk, and with this video and the album “In the Flesh,” listeners get snared in the protagonist’s nonlinear time loop: manufactured, dismembered, and released into the vacant desert, his prayer for survival is denied as he is consumed by the unending circle of death.”

Sadek continues: “In The Flesh” and the more music-based projects prior to it were exactly that, projects. Nader Sadek was never a band or band name for that matter. The projects continue to grow and change, and it’s become very interesting to hear different artists reinterpret the material. Three years after its original inception, this song (“Re:Mechanic”) needed some new personality, and I think the re-recording with Travis Ryan, Mike Hrubovac, Tim Rocheny, Orestis Nalmpantis and Kelly Conlon with a superb intro by Martin Rygiel, has given it more strength and power. Personally, I think the new version is refreshing. The “Re:Mechanic” re-fix peaks with this video, and I’m honored that Decibel and Terrorizer are premiering it together!

We are, in fact, putting together a band, and of course it will not bear my name as band name. More on that very soon. For now, I am very excited to take the project on the road for a Canadian and European tour. Thank you to all who have followed it so far.

Tour, you say?  When and where?  Here’s the list:

20.05.2014 Le Petit Campus, Montreal (CA)
23.05.2014 Traffic, ROME (IT)
24.05.2014 Cycle Club, Calenzano, FLORENCE (IT)
25.05.2014 Circolo Colony, BRESCIARA (IT)
26.05.2014 Sunset Bar, MARTIGNY (CH)
27.05.2014 Le Klub, Paris, (FR)

Music:

Travis Ryan : Main vocals, Flo Mounier : Drums, Mike Hrubovac:  Vocals, Tim Rocheny: Backing vocals, Orestis Nalmpantis: Leads, Rune Eriksen:Guitars, Kelly Conlon: Bass

Original Song by Steve Tucker and Mike Lerner, with Rune Eriksen; Lyrics Re-written by Nader Sadek; Intro by Martin Rygiel, Nader Sadek, Casey Smith; Mixed/Mastered: Casey Smith

Video: Directed by Nader Sadek

featuring:

Bassist: Novy Nowak, Guitarist: Rune Eriksen, Drummer: Flo Mounier, Singer :Novy Nowak/Guy whitney, Desert Druid: Nader Sadek,

CG/FX : Matt Foglia, Artur Elson, CHAWKI RODESLY

Shot by:  Andrew Strasser, Karim El Hakim, Nader Sadek, Black out Studios ( Tarek Hosni)

Egypt Crew:  Amy el Sabahy, Mohamed Adel, Sandrine Pelletier

US CREW:  Abraham Gautier, Henning Koczy

Original Song by Steve Tucker and Mike Lerner, with Rune Eriksen

Lyrics Re-written by Nader Sadek